Friday, October 19, 2018

U.S. House Predictions- California

18 Days Until Election Day


1. Doug LaMalfa R (Trump 56%) Likely R
2. Jared Huffman D (Clinton 68%) Safe D
3. John Garamendi D (Clinton 52%) Likely D
4. Tom McClintock R (Trump 53%) Leans R
5. Mike Thompson D (Clinton 68%) Safe D
6. Doris Matsui D (Clinton 68%) Safe D/Safe Matsui
7. Ami Bera D (Clinton 52%) Likely D
8. Paul Cook R (Trump 54%) Safe R/Likely Cook
9. Jerry McNerney D (Clinton 56%) Likely D
10. Jeff Denham R (Clinton 48%) Tossup (D)
11. Mark DeSaulnier D (Clinton 71%) Safe D
12. Nancy Pelosi D (Clinton 86%) Safe D
13. Barbara Lee D (Clinton 87%) Safe D
14. Jackie Speier D (Clinton 76%) Safe D
15. Eric Swalwell D (Clinton 69%) Safe D
16. Jim Costa D (Clinton 57%) Likely D
17. Ro Khanna D (Clinton 73%) Safe D
18. Anna Eshoo D (Clinton 73%) Safe D
19. Zoe Lofgren D (Clinton 72%) Safe D
20. Jimmy Panetta D (Clinton 70%) Safe D
21. David Valadao R (Clinton 55%) Likely R
22. Devin Nunes R (Trump 52%) Leans R
23. Kevin McCarthy R (Trump 58%) Safe R
24. Salud Carbajal D (Clinton 56%) Likely D
25. Steve Knight R (Clinton 50%) Tossup (D)
26. Julia Brownley D (Clinton 57%) Safe D
27. Judy Chu D (Clinton 66%) Safe D/Safe Chu
28. Adam Schiff D (Clinton 72%) Safe D
29. Tony Cardenas D (Clinton 78%) Safe D
30. Brad Sherman D (Clinton 69%) Safe D
31. Pete Aguilar D (Clinton 57%) Likely D
32. Grace Napolitano D (Clinton 66%) Safe D
33. Ted Lieu D (Clinton 68%) Safe D
34. Jimmy Gomez D (Clinton 83%) Safe D
35. Norma Torres D (Clinton 67%) Safe D
36. Raul Ruiz D (Clinton 52%) Likely D
37. Karen Bass D (Clinton 85%) Safe D
38. Linda Sanchez D (Clinton 67%) Safe D
39. Open (Ed Royce R) (Clinton 51%) Tossup (R)
40. Lucille Roybal-Allard D (Clinton 82%) Safe D
41. Mark Takano D (Clinton 61%) Safe D
42. Ken Calvert R (Trump 53%) Safe R
43. Maxine Waters D (Clinton 78%) Safe D
44. Nanette Barragan D (Clinton 83%) Safe D/Safe Barragan
45. Mimi Walters R (Clinton 49%) Tossup (D)
46. Lou Correa D (Clinton 66%) Safe D
47. Alan Lowenthal D (Clinton 62%) Safe D
48. Dana Rohrabacher R (Clinton 48%) Tossup (D)
49. Open (Darrell Issa R) (Clinton 50%) Leans D
50. Duncan D. Hunter R (Trump 54%) Tossup (R)
51. Juan Vargas D (Clinton 71%) Safe D
52. Scott Peters D (Clinton 57%) Likely D
53. Susan Davis D (Clinton 64%) Safe D

CA current: 39 D, 14 R
CA predicted: 44 D, 9 R

Current total:44 D, 30 R
50 D (34 Safe, 10 Likely, 2 Leans, 4 Tossup)
24 R (14 Safe, 5 Likely, 3 Leans, 2 Tossup)

Thursday, October 18, 2018

U.S. House Predictions- Alabama- Arkansas

19 Days Until Election Day


1. Bradley Byrne R (Trump 63%) Safe R
2. Martha Roby R (Trump 64%) Safe R
3. Mike Rogers R (Trump 65%) Safe R
4. Robert Aderholt R (Trump 80%) Safe R
5. Mo Brooks R (Trump 64%) Safe R
6. Gary Palmer R (Trump 70%) Safe R
7. Terri Sewell D (Clinton 69%) Safe D

AL current: 1 D, 6 R
AL predicted: 1 D, 6 R

Current total: 1 D, 6 R
1 D (1 Safe)
6 R (6 Safe)


 1. Don Young R (Trump 51%) Leans R

AK current: 0 D, 1 R
AK predicted: 0 D, 1 R

Current total: 1 D, 7 R
1 D (1 Safe)
7 R (6 Safe, 1 Leans)


1. Tom O'Halleran D (Trump 47%) Leans D
2. Open (Martha McSally R) (Clinton 49%) Likely D
3. Raul Grijalva D (Clinton 62%) Safe D
4. Paul Gosar R (Trump 67%) Safe R
5. Andy Briggs R (Trump 56%) Safe R
6. David Schweikert R (Trump 52%) Likely R
7. Ruben Gallego D (Clinton 71%) Safe D
8. Debbie Lesko R (Trump 57%) Likely R
9. Open (Krysten Sinema D) (Clinton 54%) Likely D

AZ current: 4 D, 5 R
AZ predicted: 5 D, 4 R

Current total: 5 D, 12 R
6 D (3 Safe, 2 Likely, 1 Leans)
11 R (8 Safe, 2 Likely, 1 Leans)


1. Rick Crawford R (Trump 65%) Safe R
2. French Hill R (Trump 52%) Likely R
3. Steve Womack R (Trump 62%) Safe R
4. Bruce Westerman R (Trump 64%) Safe R

AR current: 0 D, 4 R
AR predicted: 0 D, 4 R

Current total: 5 D, 16 R
6 D (3 Safe, 2 Likely, 1 Leans)
15 R (11 Safe, 3 Likely, 1 Leans)

Wednesday, October 17, 2018

NFL Week 6 Results and Week 7 Games

20 Days Until Election Day

Week 6


1. Eagles (2-3) at Giants (1-4) L 1
2. Buccaneers (2-2) at Falcons (1-4) W 1
3. Panthers (3-1) at Redskins (2-2) W 2
4. Seahawks (2-3) vs. Raiders (1-4) in London L 2
5. Colts (1-4) at Jets (2-3) L 3
6. Cardinals (1-4) at Vikings (2-2-1) L 4
7. Steelers (2-2-1) at Bengals (4-1) L 5
8. Chargers (3-2) at Browns (2-2-1) L 6
9. Bills (2-3) at Texans (2-3) L 7
10. Bears (3-1) at Dolphins (3-2) L 8
11. Rams (5-0) at Broncos (2-3) L 9
12. Ravens (3-2) at Titans (3-2) L 10
13. Jaguars (3-2) at Cowboys (2-3) L 11
14. Chiefs (5-0) at Patriots (3-2) L 12
15. 49ers (1-4) at Packers (2-2-1) L 13

Week 6 Results: 2-13 (13%)
Overall Results: 48-43 (53%)

Week 7


1. Broncos (2-4) at Cardinals (1-5)
2. Titans (3-3) vs Chargers (4-2) in London
3. Texans (3-3) at Jaguars (3-3)
4. Panthers (3-2) at Eagles (3-3)
5. Vikings (3-2-1) at Jets (3-3)
6. Patriots (4-2) at Bears (3-2)
7. Bills (2-4) at Colts (1-5)
8. Browns (2-3-1) at Buccaneers (2-3)
9. Lions (2-3) at Dolphins (4-2)
10. Saints (4-1) at Ravens (4-2)
11. Cowboys (3-3) at Redskins (3-2)
12. Rams (6-0) at 49ers (1-5)
13. Bengals (4-2) at Chiefs (5-1)
14. Giants (1-5) at Falcons (2-4)

Tuesday, October 16, 2018

2018 U.S. Senate Predictions- Updated

21 Days Until Election Day

Current U.S. Senate: 49 D, 51 R

Arizona- Tossup (R)
California- Safe D/Leans Feinstein- change from Safe D/Likely Feinstein
Connecticut- Safe D
Delaware- Safe D - change from Likely D
Florida- Tossup (D)
Hawai'i- Safe D
Indiana- Tossup (R)
Maine- Safe D/Safe King
Maryland- Safe D
Massachusetts- Safe D
Michigan- Likely D
Minnesota (A)- Safe D
Minnesota (B)- Likely D- change from Leans D
Mississippi (A)- Safe R
Mississippi (B)- Likely R
Missouri- Tossup (R)
Montana- Tossup (D)
Nevada- Tossup (R)- change from Tossup (D)
New Jersey- Leans D
New Mexico- Safe D- change from Likely D
New York- Safe D
North Dakota- Leans R- change from Tossup (R)
Ohio- Likely D
Pennsylvania- Likely D
Rhode Island- Safe D
Tennessee- Leans R- change from Tossup (R)
Texas- Leans R
Utah- Safe R
Vermont- Safe D
Virginia- Safe D
Washington- Safe D
West Virginia- Leans D
Wisconsin- Likely D
Wyoming- Safe R


46 D (23 holdovers, 15 Safe, 3 Likely, 3 Leans, 2 Tossup)
54 R (42 holdovers, 4 Safe, 1 Likely, 3 Leans, 4 Tossup)

Republican net gain of 3

Monday, October 15, 2018

2018 Gubernatorial Predictions- Updated

22 Days Until Election Day

All current Governors: 16 D, 1 I, 33 R 

Alabama- Safe R
Alaska- Likely R - change from Tossup (R)
Arizona- Likely R- change from Leans R
Arkansas- Safe R
California- Safe D
Colorado- Leans D- change from Tossup (D)
Connecticut- Likely D- change from Tossup (D)
Florida- Tossup (D)- change from Leans D
Georgia- Tossup (R)- change from Leans R
Hawai'i- Safe D
Idaho- Likely R
Illinois- Likely D
Iowa- Tossup (R)- change from Leans R
Kansas- Tossup (D)
Maine- Leans D
Maryland- Safe R- change from Likely R
Massachusetts- Safe R- change from Likely R
Michigan- Leans D
Minnesota- Likely D- change from Leans D
Nebraska- Likely R
Nevada- Tossup (R)
New Hampshire- Likely R
New Mexico- Likely D- change from Leans D
New York- Safe D- change from Likely D
Ohio- Tossup (R)- change from Leans R
Oklahoma- Leans R
Oregon- Tossup (D)- change from Leans D
Pennsylvania- Likely D
Rhode Island- Likely D- change from Leans D
South Carolina- Likely R
South Dakota- Leans R
Tennessee- Likely R
Texas- Safe R- change from Likely R
Vermont- Likely R
Wisconsin- Leans D
Wyoming- Safe R

23 D (7 holdovers, 3 Safe, 6 Likely, 4 Leans, 3 Tossup)
27 R (7 holdovers, 6 Safe, 8 Likely, 2 Leans, 4 Tossup)

Democrat net gain of 7
Republican net loss of 6

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Wyoming U.S. Senate- Race of the Day

23 Days Until Election Day

Wyoming U.S. Senate

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Safe Republican

The last race to be talked about will not be the most suspenseful. Wyoming is about as Republican as it gets on the federal level and incumbent GOP Senator John Barrasso is heavily favored to win a third full term. In 2007, he was appointed to the Senate to fill a Republican vacancy by the state's then Democrat Governor. Before he won office to the state legislature, Barrasso, a physician and media figure in the state, had run unsuccessfully for the party's Senate nomination in 1996, when he was considered a fairly moderate Republican.

Now, while Barrasso's voting record is solidly conservative, some in the party have still wanted to replace him. Former White House aide Steve Bannon seemed to want to oust the incumbent, with the assumption of course that the general election in Wyoming would be decided in the primary itself. Wealthy businessman and political donor Foster Freiss ran for Governor unsuccessfully instead and businessman Erik Prince, the former Navy SEAL who once ran the controversial para-military company Blackwater declined to run as well.

In the August primary, Barrasso faced several opponents and won, albeit with just 63 percent. His strongest challenge came from businessman Dave Dodson, who finished with 28 percent. Dodson was well-financed and ran as an outsider, calling for term-limits and criticizing the incumbent for refusing to debate.

The sole Democrat in the race was businessman and one-time local school board member Gary Trauner. He was known within the party for being the nominee for the statewide Congressional district in 2006 and 2008. He ran reasonably competitive races those years, especially the former

This cycle though, there does not seem to be any evidence that Barrasso is vulnerable.

U.S. Senate races predicted:
24 D (12 Safe, 6 Likely, 3 Leans, 3 Tossup)
11 R (4 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far, updates to come this week:
47 D (23 holdovers, 12 Safe, 6 Likely, 3 Leans, 3 Tossup)
53 R (42 holdovers, 4 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Wyoming Governor- Race of the Day

24 Days Until Election Day

Wyoming Governor

Status: Republican Open
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Status: Safe Republican

At last, we have come to the end of the alphabet in terms of the 50 states, as well as the least populated among them. Wyoming also may lay claim to the title of most Republican in the Union as well. While it did not garner much attention, Republicans in August voted to nominate a candidate to replace the GOP's popular term-limited Matt Mead, over the choice preferred via Twitter by Donald Trump.

As the 2018 cycle began, Republican Secretary of State Ed Murray was considered the front-runner to replace Governor Mead. Accusations from the 1980s surfaced though of sexual assault in the 1980s. He denied the charges but would later announce he would not seek the Governorship or any office. Shortly thereafter, he resigned his state post altogether. For a good deal of time, attorney Harriet Hageman appeared to be the only credible Republican candidate for Governor, but it was expected that others would eventually enter the race.

Eventually five candidates would join Hageman in the field, while a seventh hopeful, a veterinarian and perennial failed candidate decided to run instead with the Constitution Party. State Treasurer Mark Gordon was looked on as the favorite. He had been appointed to the post by Mead but elected in his own right in 2014. Six years earlier, he was unsuccessful in a primary bid for the state's one Congressional district.

The race was shaken up though by the announcement of 78 year old first time candidate Foster Friess The businessman and philanthropist had over the past several years become one of the most prominent donors nationally in the Republican Party, often favoring conservative alternatives to party establishment figures. As the top benefactor to Rick Santorum in the 2012 primaries, he made headlines for politically incorrect and insensitive comments. He turned down entreaties by then White House official Steve Bannon to challenge Wyoming's GOP U.S. Senator in a primary, but did run for the open Governorship. Shortly before the primary. Donald Trump endorsed him and most thought that would deal the deal for Friess who due to his personal spending on the race had been locked in a tight battle in the polls with Gordon.

However, on Primary Day, the Wyoming establishment who had largely endorsed Gordon prevailed over Trump and many national conservative figures who lined up with Friess. In a divided field, Gordon beat Friess 33-25, with Hageman taking 21 percent and businessman Sam Galeotos finishing fourth with 12 percent. He had seen much of his support evaporate when Friess entered the race, but his presence in the contest may have prevented Friess from being nominated.

Many Republicans breathed a bit of a sigh of relief with the thought that Friess might have been a polarizing candidate who could have possibly put the Governorship at risk. After all, a Democrat had served for eight years before Mead was elected. The winner of the Democrats' primary with about two-thirds of the vote was Mary Throne, a State Representative who had served as Minority Leader. Her only major opponent was seemingly a pro-marijuana activist who had run before, but he finished behind Michael Allen Green, a little known businessman, beyond his having been the state's Congressional nominee back in 2000. Green finished in second place with 12 percent.

There do not seem to be any recent polls on this race and often all sorts of states, will look beyond national party preferences to consider another party for the Governorship, but there does not seem to be anything to suggest that with Wyoming being as Republican as it has been in recent years, that Gordon should not win easily.

2018 Gubernatorial Predictions:

16 D  (2 Safe, 3 Likely, 8 Leans, 3 Tossup) 
20 R  (3 Safe, 9 Likely, 6 Leans, 2 Tossup)

Predicted total- with updates to come next week:

23 D (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 3 Likely, 8 Leans, 3 Tossup)
27 R (7 holdovers, 3 Safe, 9 Likely, 6 Leans, 2 Tossup)

Friday, October 12, 2018

Wisconsin U.S. Senate- Race of the Day

25 Days Until Election Day

Wisconsin U.S. Senate

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (Midwest)

Outlook: Likely Democrat

Wisconsin has been a profoundly complex state politically recently. In 2016, Donald Trump carried the state that nobody expected him too and freshman GOP Senator Ron Johnson won a reelection that nobody expected him to, in a rematch against the former Senator, that few had expected him to ever beat.

The other U.S. Senate seat though belongs to Tammy Baldwin, whom in a high-profile 2012 race defeated a legendary politician in the state, whom had been elected four times as Governor, but proved past his vote-getting prime, as she moved up from the House to Senate. This year, Baldwin is seeking reelection and while Republicans talked a good game about challenging her seriously, especially after what happened in 2016, she has been a favorite to win another term throughout.

All biographical looks at Senator Baldwin have to of course acknowledge her as a somewhat historical political figure. She is the first openly gay person ever elected to the Senate. Fourteen years earlier, she was the first openly gay person ever elected to the U.S. House as a non-incumbent, and the first openly gay woman in general. She has been around Capitol Hill long enough to have it not be as big of a deal anymore of course as laws and societal mores on the issue have also shifted. She has amassed a thoroughly liberal voting record, but unlike other female Senators from swing states, is not mentioned as a Presidential aspirant.

National political Republicans would have perhaps liked current GOP Governor Scott Walker to have challenged Baldwin in 2016, but he embarked on a perilous run for a third term instead. Congressman and MTV Real World alum Sean Duffy also declined to make this race, disappointing some, who are perhaps not as aware of his recent penchant for saying controversial things. There was also talk about David Clarke, the then Milwaukee County Sheriff, (who held the position as an elected Democrat), running as a Republican. However, the tough-talking publicity seeking African-American Trump surrogate, who was becoming a lightning rod for controversy resigned his office somewhat abruptly and that has seemed to end any talk of him as a statewide contender.

Out of the five candidates in the August primary, two Republicans competed most seriously for the nomination, and they came from different backgrounds and had different sorts of supporters. Many national conservative leaders were impressed with the candidacy of businessman Kevin Nicholson, who played up his service as a decorated Marine combat veteran. The 39 year old Nicholson ran as a staunch conservative and Trump backer, but he used to be a Democrat (not unlike Trump.) In fact, during the Presidential election year of 2000, he was the President of the College Democrats of America and gave a speech at the Los Angeles convention.

Nicholson has said that as the years went on, after 9/11, and upon becoming more committed to his faith, he moved to the right. All of that seems believable, but his parents apparently had a hard time with it. They made headlines by donating the maximum amount to Baldwin's reelection campaign. The GOP candidate has said that his parents remain activist Democrats and pretty much hinted at a pretty severe family strain over all sorts of matters.

At the same time, Nicholson had to face a primary opponent who was questioning his political history and commitment to the GOP. Sixty-year old Leah Vukmir is the daughter of Greek immigrants and a registered nurse, who has served in the Wisconsin Legislature since late 2002, when she was elected to succeed Scott Walker in her suburban Milwaukee district. Currently, she is the Assistant Senate Majority Leader in the capital of Madison.

While Nicholson had Tea Party figures and right-wing media celebrities touting his biography and chances against Baldwin, most of the Wisconsin political establishment was on board with Vukmir. This was not because she was seen as either considerably more or less conservative, but because she had risen through the ranks with them, unlike her opponent. Either formally or informally, she had the backing of Governor Walker, former RNC Chair and short-term Trump Chief of Staff Reince Priebus, and U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan. In May, the state party convention voted to endorse her with 73 percent.

While she stated her campaign pegged as the underdog, who would have a hard time keeping up financially with Nicholson, she used the highly respected Wisconsin GOP party organization apparatus to her advantage. Voters came to have doubts about Nicholson being overly ambitious and perhaps not quite sold on his party switch. (In some ways, Nicholson's profile mirrored that of Eric Greitens, a young former Democrat and military veteran who won as an outsider for Missouri Governor and then wound up being bounced, largely by his own party, due to scandal early in his term.) In any event, Vukmir won the primary 49-43. There will perhaps be other opportunities in the state for Nicholson to run for one day, but this seemed to be Vukmir's one chance at a statewide run.

Vukmir has run a hard charging campaign against Baldwin on ideological grounds. This race is not really getting all that much national attention though. In "America's Dairyland, the Brewers may also be surpassing politics in the headlines. The incumbent has led in all polls, and most of them at a margin slightly passed 50 percent and with a lead in the low double digits. If the polls are wrong (as they were to some extent for Trump and Ron Johnson both two years ago) maybe this race is closer than anyone is anticipating, but all signs seem to point for a second  Senate term for Baldwin.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 
24 D (12 Safe, 6 Likely, 3 Leans, 3 Tossup)
10 R (3 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:
47 D (23 holdovers, 12 Safe, 6 Likely, 3 Leans, 3 Tossup)
52 R (42 holdovers, 3 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Thursday, October 11, 2018

Wisconsin Governor- Race of the Day

26 Days Until Election Day

Wisconsin Governor

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (Midwest)

Outlook: Leans Democrat

With so much on the line this year, especially in Senate elections, this race for Governor is not getting the sort of attention it might have, considering the past national implications involving the career of Republican Governor Scott Walker.

The one-time Milwaukee County Executive had wanted to be Governor of Wisconsin for a long time. In 2006, he was defeated in the GOP primary by a Congressman, but four years later, in a strong year for Republicans, Walker defeated the then Mayor of Milwaukee (and a former Congressman) to capture the Governorship.

Walker got off to a fast and ambitious start, implementing various conservative initiatives that weakened the power of public employee unions. Democrats and the state and from around the nation converged on Madison (already a heavily liberal city) to protest Walker and his legislative Republican allies. The parties battled it out in various recall elections and Democrats were successful in getting enough signatures to make the Governor himself face a recall election. The party and union activists of all sorts were optimistic they could make an example of Walker and drive him from office, with the candidate he defeated in 2010 taking over after the recall election. However, in June of 2012, Walker survived, with an even slightly larger margin than his initial election to become the first Governor in American history to survive a recall. Democrats had gambled and lost, although the GOP was unable to capitalize in other races in the fall of that year. Walker was strengthened though, and proved his political mettle by winning a bitter reelection battle in 2014, once again scoring in the 52-53 percent range.

Having been elected now three times as Governor, Walker jumped into the 2016 Presidential sweepstakes and many saw him as the kind of rising political star with a narrative of accomplishment that could eventually propel him to the nomination. On the national scene though, Walker came across as tentative and a bit pandering. Like many others in the field, the surprise emergence of Donald Trump hurt him, and an attempt to tangle on a debate stage with the new front-runner did not go as smoothly as Walker might have hoped. With his fundraising drying up, the Governor suspended his Presidential campaign in September of 2015. In a terse announcement, he indicated the necessity of the party to act in a way that avoided a Trump nomination. Shortly before the Wisconsin primary, Walker endorsed Ted Cruz, who in a big break easily won the contest, but Trump prevailed to take the nomination. Walker put aside his reservations and offered his support to the new nominee. In November, with the Hillary Clinton campaign basically taking the Badger State for granted, Trump defied many state polls and narrowly took the state's Electoral Votes, becoming the first Republican to do so since 1984.

With 2018 approaching, and without an offer of an Administration job, Walker was left with the options of either walking away from politics, running an uphill race against an incumbent Democrat Senator, or seeking a third term (which might feel like a fourth term to Governors, and which would also be a fifth campaign for the job) as Governor. Republican Governor Tommy Thompson had won four terms as Governor between 1986 and 1998, but most states have term-limits for Governor now and voters are seemingly more in the mood for a change after someone serves eight years.

Democrats looked to find a top-tier candidate to take on Walker, and for a time, it looked like they would be unable to find one. Still, a slew of lesser known candidates ran ahead of the August primary. With so many on the ballot, some had withdrawn and had thrown their support to other candidates. There was some late consolidation in the party on behalf of the one statewide elected official in the candidate in Tony Evers, who serves as State Superintendent of Public Instruction, which is technically a non-partisan post.

As the incumbent Republican took 92 percent on his side, Evers was an easy winner for Democrats with 42 percent. Well behind, with 16 percent was Mahlon Mitchell, the young African-American Firefighters Union head, who had been the 2012 party nominee for Lt. Governor. In third place with 13 percent was a young former State Representative named Kelda Roys, who ran as a more liberal attorney. Further back in the pack was a female State Senator and former Gubernatorial candidate and a male former state party chair, who both fell short of double digits. Clearly, the primary voters wanted Walker and Evers.

The Democrats' primary for Lt. Governor was won by 31 year old former State  Representative  Mandela Barnes. The African-American candidate, who had lost a 2016 State Senate primary to an incumbent, is 35 years older than Tony Evers, who should not be confused with character of that name, who went by "Duke" and who used to manage Apollo Creed in the Rocky franchise. Running alongside Walker, for the fourth time, is incumbent Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch. A former beauty pageant contestant and television news anchor, Kleefisch, who is married to a former State Assemblyman, and who has ties to the Evangelical community, won her first race, when she was Walker's Lt. Governor partner in 2010, and she also survived in the 2012 recount.

There is nothing that liberals would like to see more than Scott Walker finally give a concession speech. The polls in the race have for the most part shown him trailing Evers. It could just be that a third term is a lot to ask for these days or that Democrats in the state, which until recently at least had a reputation of being fairly liberal, are extra-motivated. Trump took the state in a surprise two years ago, even as many suburban Republicans resisted, but may be an anchor this time. Wisconsin relies on a lot of agricultural exports, as well as selling it's Harley-Davidson motorcycles, and those industries stand to lose a lot under Trump's pro-tariff executive actions and rhetoric.

There are some varying polls this week, but they tend not to look good for the Republican. It should be kept in mind though that among the 2016 battleground states, Wisconsin was the one (and perhaps the only real one) that wound up deviating from what polls were showing. One poll this week now has Walker up by one point over Evers, while another has the Democrat 10 points ahead.

 The truth is probably somewhere in between, but it is hard to not have the perception that Evers is ahead as the race heads down the home stretch. It is quite possible there will be a late surge to Walker, but the polls are not showing that as of yet. If Scott Walker does manage to somehow win this election and secure another term, he will have to be considered the ultimate political survivor.

Gubernatorial Races predicted thus far:

16 D  (2 Safe, 3 Likely, 8 Leans, 3 Tossup) 
19 R  (2 Safe, 9 Likely, 6 Leans, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

23 D (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 3 Likely, 8 Leans, 3 Tossup)
26 R (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 9 Likely, 6 Leans, 2 Tossup)

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

NFL Week 5 Results and Week 6 Games

27 Days Until Election Day

Week  5


1. Colts (1-3) at Patriots (2-2) L 1
2. Titans (3-1) at Bills (1-3) W 1
3. Falcons (1-3) at Steelers (1-2-1) W 2
4. Broncos (2-2) at Jets (1-3) L 2
5. Jaguars (3-1) at Chiefs (4-0) W 3
6. Packers (2-1-1) at Lions (1-3) W 4
7. Ravens (3-1) at Browns (1-2-1) W 5
8. Giants (1-3) at Panthers (2-1) L 3
9. Dolphins (3-1) at Bengals (3-1) W 6
10. Raiders (1-3) at Chargers (2-2) W 7
11. Cardinals (0-4) at 49ers (1-3) W 8
12. Vikings (1-2-1) at Eagles (2-2) W 9
13. Rams (4-0) at Seahawks (2-2) L 4
14. Cowboys (2-2) at Texans (1-3) W 10
15. Redskins (2-1) at Saints (3-1) L 5

Week 5 Result: 10-5 (67%)
Overall Results: 46-30 (61%)

Week 6


1. Eagles (2-3) at Giants (1-4)
2. Buccaneers (2-2) at Falcons (1-4)
3. Panthers (3-1) at Redskins (2-2)
4. Seahawks (2-3) vs. Raiders (1-4) in London
5. Colts (1-4) at Jets (2-3)
6. Cardinals (1-4) at Vikings (2-2-1)
7. Steelers (2-2-1) at Bengals (4-1)
8. Chargers (3-2) at Browns (2-2-1)
9. Bills (2-3) at Texans (2-3)
10. Bears (3-1) at Dolphins (3-2)
11. Rams (5-0) at Broncos (2-3)
12. Ravens (3-2) at Titans (3-2)
13. Jaguars (3-2) at Cowboys (2-3)
14. Chiefs (5-0) at Patriots (3-2)
15. 49ers (1-4) at Packers (2-2-1)

Tuesday, October 09, 2018

West Virginia U.S. Senate- Race of the Day

28 Days Until Election Day

West Virginia U.S. Senate

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Leans Democrat

Many eyes will be on the Mountaineer State early on during Election Night. If Republicans look poised to flip this seat, it is a sign that any hope that Democrats have of taking over the Senate might be dashed. For as long as West Virginia has been a traditional bastion of Democrat strength, it is now very clear that if "Trump Country" exists, it's capital may be West Virginia. In 2016, the unorthodox Republican nominee won the state by 42 points, his best showing anywhere in the country. This is of course a factor as Democrat Joe Manchin fights for his second full term in the U.S. Senate.

Manchin has never lost a general election in West Virginia going all the way back to 1982. The one exception was a defeat in a crowded Democrat primary for Governor in 1996 to a more liberal Governor. He captured the Governorship eight years later though and in his second term, won a special election to go to Washington in 2010 when he took over the Senate seat that had belonged to legendary Democrat Robert C. Byrd. In Washington, Manchin has been easily the most conservative Democrat in the Senate, especially on issues like guns, abortion, and the coal industry, but across the board he has also probably been more to the left of any remaining Senate Republican, including his friend, Maine's Susan Collins. The West Virginia Democrat has voted to keep Obamacare and has expressed skepticism on Republican tax plans.

Even as Manchin had been a popular Governor, Republicans had hoped to put up a fight against him during a very anti-Democrat midterm of 2010. Manchin won by slightly more than 10 points though and two years later, beat the same opponent by 14 points, even as Barack Obama was going down in a landslide to Mitt Romney in the state. In that campaign, Manchin famously ran a television ad in which he took a gun and shot up the Cap and Trade bill, a measure favored by national Democrats and environmentalists.

Manchin has long resisted rumors that he may one day become a Republican, as the recently elected Democrat Governor of the state had in switching parties.. He continues to call himself a "West Virginia Democrat." He refused to endorse the reelection campaign of Obama in 2012 but did offer a 2016 endorsement of Hillary Clinton, citing the friendship he had with the Clintons going back to their days in Arkansas. He might have had some regret though after Secretary Clinton's poorly worded statement about putting coal miners out of work became such a national story.

While Manchin tried to establish a relationship with Trump, and was listed as a possible Cabinet nominee, the new White House believed they could make defeating Manchin in 2018 a priority. Clearly, no other Democrat in the state but Manchin would even have a chance of defending the seat. The May primary saw Manchin face a challenge from environmental activist Paula Jean Swearingen who ran to the incumbent's left, and she received 30 percent of the vote against him, showing that many Democrats in West Virginia had soured on Manchin's political positioning.

The Republican primary though that day received far more attention. It had been a pretty brutal three-way affair, although six candidates appeared on the ballot. The fourth place finisher, with nearly 10 percent was Army veteran and businessman Tom Willis, who may have received many votes simply because of distaste with the other three candidates.

National Republicans were looking to Congressman Evan Jenkins as their strongest potential nominee. Having served for years as a Democrat state legislator, Jenkins switched parties to run as a conservative Republican for Congress in 2014 and easily beat a very senior incumbent Democrat. Despite being the perceived choice of the NRSC, Jenkins would not have the field to himself however. Some on the right moved to back the candidacy of state Attorney General Patrick Morrisey. When he first won that office in 2012, he was the first Republican to hold it since 1933.

Then, seemingly out of nowhere, was the candidacy of Don Blankenship, a former energy company CEO, who was still on probation after serving a year in prison for his role in violating safety standards at a coal mine in which 29 coal miners were killed in 2010. Blankenship maintained his innocence and blamed the Obama Administration for prosecuting him for political reasons. For months though, it looked like Blankenship's campaign was gaining steam in West Virginia, as he modeled his style after that of Donald Trump, although the men are very different stylistically. He also received much criticism for running television ads attacking the wife of Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (who is U.S. Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao), as a "China person." With McConnell's political arm spending money trying to prevent Blankenship from gaining traction in West Virginia, the candidate continued to attack McConnell and claimed he had gotten rich off of his wife's family's foreign cocaine dealings.

Clearly, a Blankenship nomination would have been a disaster for Republicans. Donald Trump Jr, and eventually his father, got involved, mindful of a recently wasted Senate seat in Alabama, and both said that Blankenship could not win and Republicans must choose between Jenkins and Morrisey instead. The convicted criminal turned candidate shrugged it off and said he was "more Trump than Trump" and attacked the establishment for trying to silence him. This all had some effect though, as Blankeship's poll numbers started to decrease and he finished in third place at 20 percent, well behind the eventual winner. With this result, the stolid Senate Majority Leader trolled Blankenship and other critics by posting a photograph of himself as a drug lord. It quickly became a meme and the legend of "Cocaine Mitch" was born. For a time, McConnell was said to answer his phone using that moniker.

After this, Blankenship spent months trying to still run in the general election as the new nominee of the Constitution Party. His presence on the ballot would be the last thing Republicans need in trying to get enough support to oust Manchin. While Blankenship is able to run in November as a write-in candidate, election entities and courts in the state have said he cannot appear on the ballot as a third party candidate, citing primary "sore loser" laws.

There still was the matter of Jenkins vs. Morrisey and the fights between them were an original cause of much of the support Blankenship was believed to have had. Both of the elected Republican candidates attacked each other as insufficiently conservative and especially not supportive enough of Donald Trump. The two men practically bent over backwards to kiss the backside of the sitting President.

In terms of chutzpah, the once favored Jenkins probably took it further than his less telegenic opponent. Jenkins, who served for years as a Democrat and was said to have been supportive of Hillary Clinton for President and later Barack Obama in the 2008 election cycle, was critical of Morrisey for not having endorsed Trump in the 2016 West Virginia primary, as the Congressman had. The Attorney General, who very openly backed Trump in the general election, was scared in debates to admit that he was indeed originally backing Ted Cruz in the primaries over Trump. It was quite a ludicrous charge though from Jenkins, considering his past party affiliation (something else he had in common with Trump.) Of course, Morrisey also used Jenkins' past support of Clinton and Obama against him and criticized him for being part of the "Washington D.C. swamp" while serving in the U.S. House GOP majority.

In contrast to the native West Virginian Jenkins, Morrisey had been born in Brooklyn and raised in New Jersey. He even bombed as a 2000 Republican Congressional primary candidate there before moving to West Virginia in 2006. Jenkins went after him over the roots issue as well as accusing Morrisey and wife for being lobbyists for "Big Pharma" and tried to tie it to the state's opioid addition problems. The Attorney General's campaign took the step of sending a cease and desist letter to his primary opponent.

The primary yielded at least somewhat of a surprise at the top, as voting fell along geographic lines to some extent (with Blankenship hurting Jenkins) but the lines of attack from the Congressman also likely backfired. Morrisey won 35-29.  Jenkins conceded and offered his support to Morrisey. Recently, he has resigned his seat in Congress to become a Justice on the West Virginia Supreme Court, filling a vacancy, after the entire sitting court had been impeached.

Republicans were relieved to have a nominee after this tough primary, but somewhat circumspect that Morrisey, despite his past statewide victories, would be in a strong position to challenge Manchin. Most polls have shown the incumbent with a somewhat solid lead and easily with a very large cash advantage. Clearly, party labels may be secondary to many voters in the state, who have long been comfortable with Manchin. As Election Day approaches though and with national polarization so present in these midterms, there seems to be a bit of a movement towards Morrisey in at least making the race closer.

A big portion of this was related to the bitter fight to confirm Brett Kavanaugh to the Supreme Court. Manchin was a top swing vote on the matter as it went down to the wire and he refused to signal which way he would vote until the end. Previously, Manchin was one of a small handful of Democrats who voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Court, but the fight over Kavanuagh was considered even more crucial by Democrats. Only when it was clear that Kavanaugh would be confirmed with enough Republican votes, did Manchin announce he would support the nominee, being the only Democrat to do so. Critics on the right suggested that Manchin was disingenuous in waiting as long as he did and was only given permission by his party leader, Chuck Schumer of New York, after his vote no longer mattered. They believed that if one more Republican had been on the no side, making Manchin the actual deciding vote, he would have ultimately voted no. Many on the left have decided that Manchin committed an unforgivable sin with this vote and some may withhold support for him in his state now. Others, including those who have cast the vote for Kavanaugh as "pro-rape" have allowed themselves to give permission to Manchin to vote the way he did, in order to try to save his seat with the political realities of West Virginia at play.

If Manchin had voted no on Kavanaugh, Trump would have gotten even more involved in his efforts to sway the race to Morrisey in the state that seemingly likes him the most, and Republican anger in general (even among people like me who despise Trump but feel that Kavanaugh was immensely treated unfairly) might have made it impossible for Manchin to win.

Nonetheless, he voted yes at the end on Kavanaugh, and whatever his true motivations were, that will probably cause him to survive reelection against a credible, but less than stellar opponent.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 
23 D (12 Safe, 5 Likely, 3 Leans, 3 Tossup)
10 R (3 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:
46 D (23 holdovers, 12 Safe, 5 Likely, 3 Leans, 3 Tossup)
52 R (42 holdovers, 3 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Monday, October 08, 2018

Washington U.S. Senate- Race of the Day

29 Days Until Election Day

Washington U.S. Senate

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (West)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

While large numbers of Republicans exist inland in Washington State, the heavily Democrat voters in the Seattle area of King County have been enough to push the state into the blue column for the past several cycles. No Republican has been elected to the Senate from the state since a GOP reelection in 1994. Six years later, Democrat Maria Cantwell narrowly unseated that Senator. Republicans made a valiant attempt to win the seat back in 2006, but came up far short. The 2012 reelection of Cantwell was a blowout, and this year is trending for perhaps an even larger victory, despite a credible Republican opponent. It just may be that Washington has far more in common with California now and that the GOP is going to be shut out of the Pacific Coast states for the forseeable future.

Cantwell did once lose a reelection campaign. That came in 1994 when the freshman Congresswoman lost to a Republican, during a year where all sorts of Democrats lost their seats in Washington and elsewhere. She left politics for a bit and entered the burgeoning internet industry and became filthy rich in the process. While she would eventually take some financial hits after the internet bubble burst, she had more than enough money to finance a political comeback in 2000.

Throughout her three terms in the Senate, Cantwell has not been as high profile as some of her female colleagues. She has tried to balance a pro-business stance with staunchly liberal social views, in accordance to the prevailing politics in her state. She is the ranking member of the Senate Energy and Natural Resources Committee and remains a reliable vote for her party. In spite of all that,  Cantwell is not someone who has ever seemingly given any thought to running for President.

For the first time, Cantwell will face a female Republican opponent. Like California, Washington now has a jungle primary system in which candidates from all parties run in an August contest, and then the top two finishes face off in November. This year, a whopping 30 candidates ran, but there was never any doubt as to whom the top two finishes would be. While some Democrats ran to Cantwell's left, she easily finished first with 55 percent. Her closest competitor, with 22 points to spare was former state Republican Party Chair Susan Hutchison, who was only able to capture 24 percent of the vote. A rough estimate of the total two party vote among major party candidates was something like 60-38, basically mirroring the margin Cantwell had in November of 2012 over her GOP opponent.

Hutchison, who hails from the heavily Democrat Seattle area, would be a strong candidate in some parts of the state, but not statewide at this point. Before entering politics, which included a losing 2009 bid as the Republican nominee for King County Executive, she had a long career in Seattle television news. Hutchison, a high profile reporter and anchorwoman, also won several local Emmys for her writing and producing. She also has a considerable resume of involvement in local philanthropic causes.

At one point, Hutchison might have been considered a more moderate type of Republican, but she has staked out conservative positions in her run against Cantwell and has expressed support for the agenda of Donald Trump. It would be tough for someone serving as state party chief during the 2016 election not to at this point. The issue of tariffs and trade, which used to be a rare issue that Republicans might benefit from in many parts of Washington could be working against the party this year.

Hutchison is seemingly a strong communicator, based on her television and journalistic background, but the polls all show that Cantwell is not threatened in this race and certainly will not be challenged in terms of campaign spending.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 
22 D (12 Safe, 5 Likely, 2 Leans, 3 Tossup)
10 R (3 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:
45 D (23 holdovers, 12 Safe, 5 Likely, 2 Leans, 3 Tossup)
52 R (42 holdovers, 3 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Sunday, October 07, 2018

Virginia U.S. Senate- Race of the Day

30 Days Until Election Day

Virginia U.S. Senate

Status: Democrat Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (South)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

While the GOP would have been underdogs in an effort to deny a second term to Democrat Senator Tim Kaine, this race still has to be looked at as a lost opportunity. The controversial Republican nominee is not even an option for many voters who might otherwise be open to voting for the party, and his presence on the ballot may hurt other members of his party in the Commonwealth.

From City Council to Mayor to Lt. Governor to Governor to his 2012 Senate victory, Kaine has never lost an election in Virginia. However, he likely was surprised when he found himself on the losing ticket in the 2016 Presidential race. While the Hillary Clinton/Tim Kaine ticket did win Virginia, they lost most swing states and Kaine's performance on the ticket did not exactly receive stellar reviews. The running-mates were not all that visible in the election between such polarizing figures at the top of the ticket, but even many Democrats admitted that Mike Pence likely got the better of Kaine in their one Vice Presidential debate. Previously, Kaine had been considered for Barack Obama's running-mate in 2008. Instead, after the election, the new President named him Chair of the DNC.

Had Tim Kaine been elected Vice President, a Democrat would have been appointed to replace him (perhaps even Kaine's wife, a recent Virginia Education Secretary and daughter of a Republican Governor), and a special election would have likely been held in November of last year, with the statewide Gubernatorial contest also occurring. Then, the seat would have been up again now for a full-term. Needless to say, Republicans would have had a better chance in a special election. The name of Congresswoman Barbara Comstock, from Northern Virginia, was mentioned as a possible candidate who would not have had to give up her House seat in an odd numbered year. She chose to run for reelection instead of the Senate this year against Kaine and is considered an underdog to hold her seat, in what might be a very tough cycle for Old Dominion Republicans.

At one point, traditionally Democrat Virginia was among the first places in the South to show movement towards the GOP. Now, after some time of Virginia being thought of as a state where Republicans held the edge, the state is becoming more blue than purple. There have been some competitive statewide elections, but so many government workers in the northern portion of the state, and non-southerners moving in are moving it to the left. This has created somewhat of a backlash among the generations old residents of the state who are far more "southern" politically and culturally.

Kaine grew up in Missouri, but he and his Republican opponent were both born in Minnesota. That is the state where Corey Stewart, now an unapologetic defender of Confederate symbols and heritage grew up. Both candidates have also seemingly moved to the political edges as their careers have progressed. Kaine used to be seen, around the time he was elected Governor in 2005 as a more moderate Democrat. Stewart, currently holds the post of Chairman of the Prince William County Council, to which he was first elected in 2006,  which is somewhat surprising to me, considering it would be thought of as a political swing area in Northern Virginia. Stewart has taken some very controversial positions in that post though on matters such as guns and immigration. Clearly though, he has been successful in winning over voters.

Stewart's attempts to win higher office has not been as successful though. He lost out at the 2013 Republican state convention for the chance to run for Lt. Governor and he also lost a 2017 primary for Governor, albeit by a surprisingly close margin to the establishment choice. After that, there was much drama as to whether or not he would eventually endorse nominee Ed Gillespie and whether Gillespie should feel comfortable accepting his endorsement. Ultimately, a bit of a half-endorsement was given and Gillespie lost by nine points.

At this point though, Stewart had become more politically toxic in some circles .He was an early supporter of Donald Trump's Presidential campaign and was selected to chair the effort statewide. He clashed with RNC officials though as it was clear that Virginia was not a state Trump had a chance in, and in a move to "placate" the national party, Stewart was essentially fired.

After the 2017 Gubernatorial primary, where he only lost by about one point,  Stewart announced his intention to run for the U.S. Senate. Others in the party were reluctant at this point to face Kaine in what would have been an uphill battle. When violence broke out in Charlottesville, during a weekend when white nationalists (who openly marched in the name of Donald Trump) clashed with left-wing counter protestors, leaving a woman dead, Stewart generated even more controversy by seeming to downplay the event and blaming the media for enticement. While Stewart has explicitly denounced racism, he has vocally backed efforts to keep Confederate monuments and symbols in Virginia as examples of historic southern heritage and he has criticized African-Americans and others for wanting to remove them. His ties to some figures on the alt-right has also brought some scrutiny, although he insists that he might have taken pictures for them or offered kind words before they made openly racist or anti-Semitic statements later on.

Two other candidates qualified to also run in the June Republican primary. One was E.W. Jackson, a staunchly conservative African-American pastor who had support in the Evangelical community. Jackson who had run for the Senate in 2012, then won the Lt. Governor nomination in 2013 that Stewart had wanted. He proved to be controversial and divisive enough on the campaign trail himself that year though and he was also seen as someone with virtually no chance against Kaine. To the extent there was a "mainstream" Republican candidate in the field, it was Nick Freitas, a young State Delegate and Iraq War veteran. He had ties to the Tea Party Movement and to libertarian Republicans such as Kentucky Senator Rand Paul. All things considered, he was the party's best option to avoid embarrassment, and a lot of Virginia Republicans voted for him for precisely that reason. Still though, he lost to Stewart 45-43, with Jackson taking 12 percent. Clearly, a Donald Trump Tweet on behalf of Freitas would have made all the difference. Perhaps Mitch McConnell even asked him to do so, but that never happened. The morning after the primary, Trump Tweeted his support of Stewart, and seemingly indicated he was happy with the result. He also, somewhat crazily, suggested that Stewart had a good chance of beating Kaine.

With Stewart officially leading the GOP ticket, candidates down ballot for Congress and other offices have had to decide if they are willing to appear with him on the trail, keep him at arm's length, and reject him. The Senate nominee definitely has his cadre of supporters and many Republicans in the state dislike Kaine enough, especially as he moved further to the left as a national figure, to vote for any Republican against him, even someone they might find as loathsome as Kaine. I do not think this race will be close though, although Stewart might even surpass 40 percent.As expected, it is a bitterly personal race, with the candidates going after each other in debates, but there are just too many Democrats in Virginia and enough Republicans who will never be able to fully embrace all of Stewart's platform.

Not long ago, a former state delegate and Marine veteran, Winsome Sears, an African-American woman announced she would run as as write-in candidate to give Republicans an option. I think it is the best one available.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 
21 D (11 Safe, 5 Likely, 2 Leans, 3 Tossup)
10 R (3 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:
44 D (23 holdovers, 11 Safe, 5 Likely, 2 Leans, 3 Tossup)
52 R (42 holdovers, 3 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Saturday, October 06, 2018

Vermont U.S. Senate- Race of the Day

31 Days Until Election Day

Vermont U.S. Senate

Status: Independent (Democrat) Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Safe Democrat

There are several "only in Vermont" components to this contest, although the end result is not in doubt. For one thing, a group of independent or third party candidates, most of whom are on the left, are running, because the incumbent, an incumbent "Democratic Socialist" who runs as an Independent is not left-wing enough for them.

Bernie Sanders is now a political celebrity, but for a long time he was a gadfly, whom as an Independent lost many statewide contests in Vermont in the '70s and 80's. He was however elected as Mayor of Burlington. In 1990, he finally won a statewide victory, and was off to the U.S. House to represent the state he moved to from New York City in 1968, when he was in his mid 20s. During this time in the House, Sanders both looked different than his colleagues, and was often an iconoclastic vote, representing his liberal views. While he caucuses with the Democrats, he was elected as an Independent. During his first few terms, Democrats put up candidates in the general election to oppose him, but then stopped doing so as Sanders gained more staying power.

An open U.S. Senate seat in 2006 saw this arrangement go to an even higher level. Some had concerns that Sanders could be seen as Senate material, but he had no trouble winning the general election against a Republican, and an even easier time being reelected. In the 2016 cycle, he launched what many at first thought was a vanity Presidential campaign in the Democrat primaries. In his mid 70s by now though, he galvanized large numbers of liberal activists (most of them white) and raised tremendous amounts of money, mostly in smaller dollar amounts. He quickly became the chief obstacle to the expected party coronation of Hillary Clinton. After losing in Iowa by a hare, he easily won New Hampshire, and then surprised many by continuing to beat Clinton in a series of contests. She had all the advantages though (and many unfair ones according to some as well), including superdelegates, and while she captured the nomination, Sanders backers are the convention were not shy in saying the party picked the wrong person.

In some ways, the anti-establishment populist appeal of Sanders mirrored that of Trump in the Republican primaries, although on most issues, the two would never be able to come to an agreement. Still, enough disaffected Sanders primary voters ,either stayed home in November or actually voted for Trump to easily make up the deciding margins in swing states that delivered the White House to Trump. At the same time, Democrats now continue to move to the left and have initiated reforms, such as lessening the influence of superdelegates, which harmed Sanders in the last cycle and may benefit him or someone like him in 2020. The concept of running in a general election against Bernie Sanders nationally is something that Donald Trump and his backers in the GOP would seemingly take in a minute.

Will Sanders run again for President as a Democrat in 2020 as he approaches his 79th birthday? He definitely has among the highest name recognition in the party and large impassioned support. Many Democrats have run in this year's midterms, explicitly as "Berniecrats" who said they were inspired to enter politics by his Presidential run. Sanders has been selective on whom he has chosen to endorse. Some candidates he have wound up losing primaries, while others have won in high-profile ways. One side-note is that Sanders' son ran for Congress in New Hampshire, explicitly without his father's support, as the senior Sanders said he did not believe in political family dynasties, and  came well short in a place where his father had done extremely well.

Of course, the Senator from Vermont is up for reelection this year and is seeking a third term. There is hardly any drama about the outcome. He once again has resisted entreaties to officially become a Democrat and is running as an Independent. The major party nonetheless has selected him as their choice in the August primary with 91 percent of the vote, and per tradition, Sanders formally declined the nomination. It is somewhat fascinating to note that perhaps the most popular elected official in America today among Democrats refuses to embrace the label Democrat.

The Republican contest was even weirder. Twenty-nine percent of voters, the highest group, filed blank ballots. The second place "winner" with 27 percent was gadfly businessman and frequent candidate Brooke Paige. Under Vermont's quirky laws though, Paige also won the Republican nomination for five other statewide offices. He chose to withdraw from all of them except Secretary of State. The state party would now have to pick a new nominee for Senate. The field, which also included a candidate running for the Senate in several states he did not live, had Lawrence Zupan, a real estate broker as its closest finisher, at just a point below Paige. Attorney Jasdeep Pannu had won 12 percent, but Zupan, whom like Sanders and many others in the state, was a New York City transplant, seemed to be the obvious choice. After all, Sanders has beaten reasonably credible Republicans with higher profiles in Vermont before.

Truth be told, Zupan will probably get more votes against Sanders than Paige would have but the race will be a blowout. Even many non-Democrats in Vermont have found appeal in Sanders, who used to be more conservative, representative of his rural state, on an issue like gun control. Most Vermonters will also probably say they want Bernie to run for President again. Comedian Larry David certainly would concur.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 
20 D (10 Safe, 5 Likely, 2 Leans, 3 Tossup)
10 R (3 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:
43 D (23 holdovers, 10 Safe, 5 Likely, 2 Leans, 3 Tossup)
52 R (42 holdovers, 3 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Friday, October 05, 2018

Vermont Governor- Race of the Day

32 Days Until Election Day

Vermont Governor

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Blue State (East)

Outlook: Likely Republican

If a space alien came down to Earth, and met with Bernie Sanders, whom they were told was the most popular politician in Vermont, they would be perplexed as to how the state actually has a Republican Governor.

Alas, it does though, and incumbent Phil Scott is expected to win a second two-year term. Like neighboring New Hampshire, the Green Mountain State elects their Governor every two years. This makes it far less likely that anybody other than a calamity in the office might be thrown out after serving just two years. However, Scott's approval numbers are fairly high and voters seem to appreciate his low-key demeanor, especially after some policy-related tumult under his Democrat predecessor.

Before being elected Governor in 2016, businessman Scott had served as a State Senator and Lt. Governor. By Vermont standards, he was considered in the conservative wing of the GOP, but by national standards, certainly now, he is considered a moderate on social issues. He has chosen to publicly oppose some policies of Donald Trump and other Republicans in Washington D.C. as Governor. Perhaps because of that, he was challenged in this August's primary by businessman Keith Stern who ran as a "conservative constitutionalist" and claimed there was not much difference between Scott and Democrats. (The even further left Progressive Party is also a factor in the state and is the political home of the current Lt. Governor.)  The primary saw the Republican beat his challenger by a comfortable margin of 65-32, which still certainly showed divisions in the state GOP.

While Democrats realized that beating Scott after just one short term might be difficult, some realized that the nomination would definitely be worth having in the state during a midterm election of a divisive Republican President. A 13 year old even announced his campaign, as Vermont has no age limit. That young Democrat finished in fourth place with 7 percent of the vote. Oddly enough, nearly 12 percent of Vermont Democrats also cast blank ballots in the primary.

The party's frontrunner however was Christine Hallquist, the former CEO of the Vermont Electric Co-Op, which seems like something that would only exist in Vermont. Hallquist left her post to seek the party's nomination for Governor. Not long before, while serving in that role, the first time candidate was known as Dave Hallquist. Indeed Christine Hallquist is the first transgender nominee for Governor. She represents the T of the LGB&T that are all Democrat nominees for Governor this year. Hallquist made the transition, as a visible person in the small state, with the support of her family, including her son who made a documentary about it all, and she remains married to her longtime wife. (The first known transgender nominee for statewide office in the country was a Vermont Republican who was nominated for Attorney General in 2008, after having run against Bernie Sanders for Congress statewide as well in 2000.)

Many people have empathy for some challenges that Hallquist has faced in her life and while she claims she has received some threats from around the country or the world, most people in Vermont are said to basically shrug about it all. She won her party's primary with 40 percent of the vote. Running with the endorsement of Ben of Ben &Jerry, was environmental activist James Ehlers who took 18 percent and anti-poverty activist and self-identified "low-income single mom" Brenda Siegel was very close behind. It appears these two candidates split the most left-leaning votes in the state, against their transgender opponent, who was considered the more mainstream Democrat. The Progressive Party is not running a candidate in the general election.

Vermont being as left as it is will surely mean that the Democrat will receive a sizable number of votes from liberals and party regulars. It is also true that voters on the right may choose not to show up to support Governor Scott, the Republican nominee. However, those in between those political poles  are expected to go heavily for Scott. He won with 52 percent two years ago and will probably do slightly better this fall.

Gubernatorial Races predicted thus far:

15 D  (2 Safe, 3 Likely, 7 Leans, 3 Tossup) 
19 R  (2 Safe, 9 Likely, 6 Leans, 2 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:

22 D (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 3 Likely, 7 Leans, 3 Tossup)
26 R (7 holdovers, 2 Safe, 9 Likely, 6 Leans, 2 Tossup)

Thursday, October 04, 2018

Utah U.S. Senate- Race of the Day

33 Days Until Election Day

Utah U.S. Senate

Status: Republican Open
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (West)

Outlook: Safe Republican

There are numerous storylines of interest in regards to this contest that have little to do with the almost certain eventual outcome. The 84 year old President Pro Tempore of the U.S. Senate is retiring after more than 40 years in office, he himself a one-time long-shot Presidential candidate, and his likely replacement is a man, just 13 years younger, who came far closer to the Presidency himself. Is the desire to be a freshman U.S. Senator simply a bookmark to end a political career or a launching pad to bigger things?

Utah is perhaps the most Republican state in America as the GOP dominates at all levels statewide, and receives massive voter support throughout the state with the exception of the urban center of Salt Lake City. However, the heavily Mormon state did not take well to Donald Trump during his Presidential candidacy in 2016 for a variety of reasons. Some even wondered if the Electoral Votes of the state may be in doubt as a Utah resident and LDS Church Member ran as an Independent candidate. Evan McMullen would eventually receive 22 percent of the vote in the state, but still not enough to finish higher than third place. Donald Trump did win the state, with a plurality of the vote, about 18 points ahead of Hillary Clinton. Four years earlier, the GOP victory margin was about 49 points.

That was when the GOP Presidential nominee was Mitt Romney however, the first ever Mormon to appear on a national ticket. Any Republican would have easily won the state, but Utahns felt a special affinity to Romney, who had long family roots in the state, and who attended college there, and served as the highly popular CEO of the 2002 Salt Lake City Winter Olympic Games. By this time, one of Romney's sons and his family were also living in Utah, and the younger Romney was being talked about himself as a potential future statewide candidate there.

Politics had been in the family blood of the Romneys after all, in addition to success in the business world. As a teenager in Michigan, Mitt Romney saw his father elected Governor of the state. After that, George Romney twice sought an opportunity to be the Republican Presidential nominee but was unsuccessful. He later served in the Cabinet of Richard Nixon. Even more so, Romney's mother Lenore was defeated in a landslide when she ran for the U.S. Senate from Michigan in 1970.

After starting a family of his own in Massachusetts, where he achieved great success in the world of venture capital, Romney launched his first bid for political office in 1994 as the Republican U.S. Senate nominee against Ted Kennedy. For a time it looked like the young attractive candidate, who positioned himself as a moderate Republican, had a chance to knock off a legend in the state's politics, from the most famous family political dynasty around. While 1994 was a strong year for Republicans, Massachusetts was still Kennedy Country and Romney was defeated. He passed up other opportunities to run for office, and in 2002 relocated to Utah for a successful stint guiding the once troubled Olympic Games bid, as his wife Ann was also dealing with an MS diagnosis, which would eventually go into remission.

Romney received so many plaudits for his turnaround of the SLC Olympics that Massachusetts Republicans worked to quickly draft him to run for Governor to save the office. He entered the race, pushing aside an unpopular acting incumbent Republican, and then won a competitive general election in November of 2002,  never an easy feat for a Massachusetts Republican. Romney had an ambitious agenda as Governor, and had to work with an overwhelmingly Democrat legislature. He also seemed to move more towards the right during these years, with his eye on a potential Presidential run. The Governor did not seek reelection, which might have been a difficult feat in the state considering how he had shifted positions on issues like abortion, but ran for President in the 2008 cycle. He was able to garner support from many conservatives, but ultimately, the establishment was behind John McCain and his foreign policy credentials. The two men had some spats on the campaign trail but ultimately became good friends. Still Romney's considerable wealth made it impossible for McCain to select as his running-mate.

After Barack Obama defeated John McCain, Romney was thought of as the traditional "next in line" Republican candidate for 2012. In retrospect, his path to winning the nomination against a fairly weak field was not that difficult, but there were burgeoning signs of a populist movement in the party, that remained suspicious of the establishment or "elitist" Romney as well as some lingering prejudice surrounding his Mormon faith. The general election though saw Republicans mostly united around Romney and for months, it looked like he had a very good chance of making Obama a one-term President. His performance in debates was impressive, but defeating an incumbent President, who is also an historic political figure was a tough task to do, especially with an east coast hurricane temporarily overshadowing the Presidential campaign and costing the Republican momentum. Obama won almost all of the battleground states by close margins, en route to a second term. Romney graciously conceded the election and most anticipated he was finished with political life, at least as a candidate.

In retrospect, with the revelations surrounding Russian interference in the U.S. elections of 2016 and all the talk surrounding relations between our country and Mr. Putin, we can look back at the significant disagreements the candidates had in the 2012 campaign. Romney said that Russia was America's biggest "geopolitical threat" and it was the practiced response of the Obama/Biden ticket and their party to laugh off such a statement and accuse Romney of living in the past or wanting to re-start the Cold War. Any honest Democrat will have to admit how wrong they were and how right Governor Romney was.

As 2016 approached, Romney who had mostly spent his post Governor years in homes he owned in California and New Hampshire, surprised many when he began to openly contemplate entering the 2016 Presidential contest for a third attempt. He quickly discovered that many of his former backers were more interested in giving a chance to some younger establishment figures in what looked like a strong field. Romney decided to stay out of the race and then Donald Trump happened. In a highly publicized speech in Utah, Romney, as the last GOP Presidential nominee, held nothing back in ripping into the party's new frontrunner, calling him a fraud and unworthy of the office. The former Governor asked Republicans to vote strategically for Trump's remaining opponents, but by this time it might have been too late. Trump of course fired back furiously at the candidate he had endorsed in the 2012 primaries and continued to refer to Romney as a "loser" and as someone who "choked" in the campaign.

Romney made it clear that Trump would not have his vote in the general election either, but still Trump won Utah and all other red states, in addition to several of the battleground states Romney failed to win. (Running against Hillary Clinton when she was seeking a third term for his party was an easier task than running against Obama as an incumbent.) Then, interestingly enough, Romney was up for consideration for the position of Secretary of State. While some thought Trump was putting him through the motions to "torture" him as someone who had been "disloyal", it looked like Trump was serious as the two men met. Romney publicly congratulated Trump on his win, and said optimistic things about him, but did not give into calls to apologize for or retract his harsh criticism from the campaign. Ultimately, Trump loyalists seemed to prevail upon the President-elect that he could not pick Romney for the job.

All the while, the 2018 cycle contained questions about the future of incumbent Republican Senator Orrin Hatch, who was first elected in 1976. While an easy winner throughout his career, Hatch had seen his poll numbers go south, especially as conservatives in the state turned on him for his history of trying to reach across the aisle to work on legislation with Democrats, and as represented by his longtime friendship with the late Ted Kennedy.

Did Hatch want to run again? Could he actually be vulnerable to a Democrat in the reddest of states? Might he lose the nomination as his junior GOP colleague recently had in the state? A lot of ambitious Republicans were anxious to find out what Hatch wanted to do. Talk turned to Mitt Romney, who had relocated officially to Utah by this point. The incumbent seemed to want to run again but was open to the idea of stepping aside for Romney, his long-time ally. Polls showed that Romney could have easily beaten Hatch in a primary however, although it does not seem like Romney was giving that any thought.

Officials in the Trump White House though, such as Steve Bannon, had no use for Romney, and embarked on an effort to get Hatch to run again, simply to prevent Romney from replacing him. The incumbent, who did seem to want to hang on, moved closer to Trump at the same time. This was all an odd development for right-wingers to suddenly trying to embrace a politician they would have said they loathed not long ago. The bottom line was that Hatch's numbers in Utah were not good, and he agreed that he would not seek another term. Romney took little time getting into the race. Several Utah Republicans, especially on the right, expressed dismay that a political figure from another state, whom they held in ideological suspicious could be coronated, but Romney's standing as a Mormon trailblazer, by virtue of his Presidential bid, had him as someone who was hard to beat. Reading the tea leaves perhaps, Trump quickly endorsed him on Twitter, which likely surprised Romney and his team. The new Utah candidate had little choice but to accept it. Still, while Trump has endorsed Romney, Romney has never endorsed Trump.

On a side note, Romney's niece, Ronna McDaniel, of Michigan, was selected by Trump to be Chairman of the Republican National Committee. Needless to say, she has taken a different tact from her uncle and has strongly defended her new boss at every turn. Reportedly, she was asked by either Trump or those close to him to stop using Romney as part of her name.

Nonetheless, Romney has before and since entering the Senate race had a bit of an odd relationship with Trump. He was highly critical of the President's response to the Charlottesville riots which killed a woman, and re-iterated on the one year anniversary that "equivocation on racism" should be disqualifying politically. At many points in the Trump Administration, Romney has Tweeted or written statements on Facebook expressing profound disagreement with Trump policies, while also avoiding personal attacks. Still though, Romney has spoken to Utah reporters about what he sees as Administration successes and has claimed that on issues such as the economy, that Trump has performed better than he expected and has governed in a way similar to how Romney would have. While saying it was far too early to say if he would support a Trump reelection, he also made a statement in which he claimed that Democrats would not be able to deny him a second term. All of this caused some confusion for many, especially in the GOP, as to what exactly Romney's angle was. Never Trumpers were counting on Romney to come to Washington for this primary reason of being a moralistic conservative thorn in Trump's side and perhaps even challenge him for re-nomination. (After all, Romney is slightly younger than Trump and also younger than some of the top Democrat possibilities.)

First though, there was the matter of officially securing the U.S. Senate nomination. While the ultimate outcome was never really in doubt, Romney was challenged by State Representative and physician Mike Kennedy, who ran to the frontrunner's right. In fact, at the state April GOP convention, which tends to be dominated by Tea Party types and conservative activists, Kennedy narrowly got more votes than Romney, as all other hopefuls failed to qualify for a primary ballot. This was not a huge surprise though as other establishment figures in the Utah GOP had done a good deal worse at prior conventions, and in most cases, went on to easily win the much higher participation primary. In June, Romney easily won the primary 71-29 and 24 years after losing to a different Kennedy in a Senate election, could enjoy the headlines nonetheless. It needs to be noted though that there are voters on the right in Utah, including LDS Church members, who still consider Romney a "RINO" and unacceptable. While Romney will win this race solidly, he is not going to come close to the 73 percent he received statewide as the 2012 Presidential nominee, because the Republican Party, under Trump has changed so much since then.

Of course, there are still Democrats in Utah. At their May convention, the party nod went easily to Salt Lake City Councilwoman Jenny Wilson, who twelve years earlier had tried to follow in her father's footsteps in running for Mayor of Salt Lake City, a job he once held. She may be a credible candidate, as far as Utah Democrats go, but she stand virtually no chance in a general election, even with some voters on the right who like Trump planning to skip voting for Romney, just like he did not vote for Trump.

Even though Romney is a distinct front-runner in the contest, he is not ducking opportunities to debate his Democrat opponent. The Republican nominee has garnered a reputation for being a strong debater (at least since his long ago tussles with Ted Kennedy), and his one general election victory ever was against a female opponent.

So, while the end result of a GOP hold is not in much doubt, there is the fairly unprecedented circumstance here of a 71 year old, who grew up in one state, and governed another, being elected to represent yet another. While Romney is not exactly a Utah carpetbagger, it also has to be said that this is likely the only state in America (perhaps with significantly Mormon Idaho as an exception) where he could be elected to office. He would been seen as too conservative a Republican for the blue states, where he could possibly win Republican nominations, and the Trump acolytes would prevent him from being nominated in the conservative red states.

For me, I sort of wonder why Romney, whom I twice was proud to back for President (and would have done so a third time had he run), wants to be a freshman U.S. Senator, when he has such a comfortable life elsewhere, with 20 plus or however many grandchildren by now. Does he just want to serve the public in anyway that he can, especially after spending so many years trying to get to Washington D.C? Is this about knowing he could end his political career with a victory? Winning an office that neither parent held or simply accomplishing the task he first set out to do in 1994? While Barry Goldwater returned to the Senate via a new election after being a Presidential nominee, and while Hubert Humphrey was elected to the Senate again after serving as Vice President and then losing a Presidential bid, what Romney is doing, in seeking to enter the Senate for the first time, as an ex-major party Presidential nominee is unprecedented.

For most, the relationship in Washington between Romney and Trump will get a good deal of attention next year, especially with a Senator like John McCain having passed away and Jeff Flake and Bob Corker not seeking new terms. Is Romney going to become a Trump ally (at least as it relates to issues affecting Utah) or is he going to stand up for a different direction nationally for the party and the country? I happen to hope it's more of the latter, although of course Romney will vote for conservative policies, even if that means he "sides" with the Administration on matters.

Some have said that Romney may even become the Senate GOP Leader before too long. Others think he is building up a power base to seek the Presidency again, either against or after Trump leaves the scene under some political or legal scenario. (I am not sure how becoming a Senator now fits into that long-range plan.)

Whatever happens, Donald Trump has gone on record recently referring to Romney as a "straight shooter" and those may be words he comes to regret.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 
19 D (9 Safe, 5 Likely, 2 Leans, 3 Tossup)
10 R (3 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:
42 D (23 holdovers, 9 Safe, 5 Likely, 2 Leans, 3 Tossup)
52 R (42 holdovers, 3 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Wednesday, October 03, 2018

Texas U.S. Senate- Race of the Day

34 Days Until Election Day

Texas U.S. Senate

Status: Republican Incumbent
2016 Presidential Result: Red State (South)

Outlook: Leans Republican

For many people, this will be the marquis contest of November's midterm election. It will represent both what is exciting about politics and also the worst of politics, as two ambitious men in their forties compete to represent the second largest state in the Union.

Republican incumbent Rafael Edward Cruz, a Canadian born, half Cuban-American, who prefers to be called Ted is being challenged by Democrat Robert Francis O'Rourke, an El Paso born Irish-American Congressman who prefers to be called Beto. Opponents of both take issue with these near life-long nicknames, suggesting one man or another is pretending to either ignore or embrace a racial identity they should not.

For more than a generation now, the Lone Star State has voted very Republican. The last Democrat to win a Senate race was 30 years ago, and the last time a non-incumbent accomplished the feat was 48 years ago, before either Cruz or O'Rourke were born. This year though, the Democrat challenger is raising more money than the well-funded Republican incumbent, and O'Rourke's campaign has taken on an aura of what critics say is a "cult" as supporters from across the country take special interest in this race, mostly out of a desire to see his opponent defeated. The Congressman is described as "the next Kennedy" by some, and if he is elected, considering the Electoral College heft of Texas, will immediately be thought of as a contender for the national ticket. In the meantime, the Presidential ambitions of the very smart Republican Senator seems to have suffered tremendously for the near future.

In 2012, Cruz ran for office for the first time, after experience in federal and state legal communities. He was hard charging and attracted national support in his own right from conservative activists as he upset the GOP establishment choice for the Senate and then easily won the seat in the fall running in the Republican dominated state. Those who have disliked Cruz have tended to really dislike him though, whether it is on disagreements with his unapologetic stances on issues, or his personality which many find off-putting, even though who often agree with him on issues. Cruz went to the Senate intent on being disruptive and in his freshman term did not make many friends among Democrats or his GOP colleagues.

Those on the right who enjoy cable news shows or talk radio took a liking to Cruz though. There is no doubting the man's intelligence, or ability to debate, in the politically classic way of actually going back and forth on issues. He wasted no time putting together a campaign for the 2016 Republican Presidential nomination, even though he would not be the only young Cuban-American first term Republican Senator to run. In fact, much of Cruz's campaign was built on contrasting himself in a more conservative way to Florida's Marco Rubio. Neither man could have hardly anticipated the Donald Trump phenomena For months, Cruz treated Trump with kid gloves, trying to be his pal, feeling confident all along that Trump would eventually fail, and Cruz would be around to pick up his support.

As time passed, and with Cruz having generated significant Tea Party support, Trump turned on his former debate stage ally with gusto. The moniker "Lyin' Ted" was invented as Trump attacked Cruz for not being stalwart enough on illegal immigration and other issues, and saying that all U.S. Senators or anyone who had held political office was suspect. Trump with all his"Birther" bona fides that Cruz might be ineligible to be President because he was born in Canada, when his American citizen mother was living there with her then husband, the Senator's Cuban refugee father (who remains a very active and sometimes controversial political surrogate for his son.) When Cruz attempted to fight back against Trump's attacks, the celebrity businessman threatened to "spill the beans" on the Senator's accomplished professional wife and insinuated that she was ugly. Finally, there was the crazy theory floated, thanks to a thinly sourced National Enquirer cover, that Cruz's father had somehow been an associate of Lee Harvey Oswald and was involved with him in Texas when John F. Kennedy was assassinated.

These attacks on Cruz began to take their toll and Cruz would angrily call Trump names in front of television cameras, and attacked his veracity and character in harsh terms. All GOP candidates who wound up getting in the mud with Trump would come to regret it though. In particular, Cruz seemed to swing and miss by attacking Trump for having "New York values." That allowed Trump to claim the mantle of 9/11 in some sense and others who might be opposed to Trump found there were perhaps some sinister dog whistles in the comment.  While Cruz won several state contests and the second highest number of delegates, he and others in the field could never coordinate effectively to stop Trump from receiving the Presidential nomination.

At the GOP National Convention in Cleveland, there was much speculation about if Cruz would be allowed to speak and what he might say. In his prime-time speech, he eloquently defended conservatism and seemed to be positioning himself as a leader in the party moving forward. He told delegates to "vote their conscience" in regards to the Presidential election, neither explicitly endorsing nor rejecting the man he had previously called a "sniveling coward." The Trump delegates (and even many of Cruz's) went ballistic at this final portion of the speech, loudly insisting that Cruz endorse Trump in the name of party unity. (Many party luminaries were skipping the convention all together.) Cruz was practically booed off stage that night and that hope that GOP establishment types had of maybe primarying the Senator's reelection campaign now had his former Tea Party allies joining in the charge of wanting to vote out Cruz.

The next day, Trump tried to shrug off the Cruz incident, repeated the "his dad might have been involved in killing JFK" innuendo and predicted that in the near future, Cruz would decide he had to offer his endorsement, and that he, Trump, would refuse it. As it turned out, Trump was mostly right, as with the pressure on, Cruz did endorse Trump, (who seemingly accepted it.) The Senator who explained that he was not willing to be a "servile little puppy dog" found a way to submit to Trump. Since Trump has been President, Cruz has turned into one of his strongest allies and defenders in Washington. The occupant of the Oval Office strongly supports his former rival for reelection and promises to come to Texas to campaign for him on a grand scale.

Of course, making nice with Trump virtually ended any primary threat to Cruz for 2016. He captured 85 percent in the March primary against several little known candidates who tended to criticize him for being too close to Trump. That same day, Congressman Beto O'Rourke won the Democrats' nomination with a relatively unimpressive 62 percent, considering the party support he had. Taking 24 percent was businesswoman and baseball coach Sema Hernandez, about whom little was known, except that she actually had a Latino name, in a state where so many Democrat primary voters are of that ethnic background. An even more unknown dude named Edward Kimbrough took 14 percent of the primary vote.

O'Rourke first attracted national attention in 2012 when the then City Councilman unseated a veteran Hispanic Congressman in the party primary in the heavily Hispanic district based in El Paso. O'Rourke offered a generational and ideological contrast, expressing his strong support for LGBT rights and also things such as steps towards drug legalization. It would be interesting to know how many voters thought that the candidate named Beto might have been Hispanic himself.

Both Cruz and O'Rourke came to Capitol Hill at the same time and as the Republican set his sights on the White House, the Democrat looked towards a statewide run for Senate and attempted to take steps to define himself as a more centrist Democrat. As it became clear that his race would be against Cruz however, O'Rourke has once again embraced the progressive label, and that has helped him raise considerable amounts of money from places like New York and California.

The two nominees differ sharply on almost every major issue and the race has been quite personal as well. Cruz seems to realize that there is probably little he can do to get voters to actually like him personally so he has engaged in a strategy to try to drive up his opponent's negatives. In many ways, that is just political common sense. Attacking O'Rourke for once being in a punk band when he was in college probably had little effect, but an episode from O'Rourke's twenties may wind up playing a significant part in the result of this election.

Aside from a college arrest in 1995 in which charges were not filed, O'Rourke ran afoul of the law three years later when the then 26 year old was charged with a DWI in Texas. The details of this incident did not become public knowledge until very recently. O'Rourke, who was highly drunk, was speeding and crashed his vehicle. According to witnesses, he attempted to flee the scene. During the course of the campaign, the candidate has taken responsibility for the actions and apologized for them. Republicans have stated that he had not previously been forthcoming about just how serious this legal matter was and how much danger the public was in. Considering the intense scrutiny being placed on Supreme Court nominee Brett Kavanaugh for all sorts of things he is alleged to have done (or included in his yearbook) in both his High School and college years, there is likely a high degree of hypocrisy in those who would overlook what an older, adult O'Rourke did. Personally, I think these things can be overlooked (there is nothing remotely corroborated involving sexual assault and Kavanaugh, and he has forcefully denied all charges of that), if a person has demonstrated they have grown and learned from their past misdeeds. It does make the Kennedy comparisons for O'Rourke a bit more apt though.

After the primary, most thought that while O'Rourke was an attractive political figure and Cruz had his own sort of baggage, it would still be a fairly easy win for the Republican, considering the political makeup of Texas. However, several polls have shown a closer than expected race. All sorts of anecdotal evidence suggests that Texas Democrats are fired up to come out and vote in the midterms and that O'Rourke could ride a "blue wave" of African-American, Hispanics, female voters, young people, and disaffected moderate Republicans to an upset over Cruz.

As of today, this race is closer than I expected it to be, but still, I am not prepared to call it a toss-up. Republicans still have a profound advantage in Texas and as these sorts of battles get nationalized, Republicans are becoming motivated, especially in wake of the Kavanaugh saga (where Cruz defended the nominee as a member of the Judiciary Committee) to vote as well. Other wedge issues such as Second Amendment rights, sanctuary cities for illegal immigrants, and the concept of replacing ICE are all things that might make it problematic for someone as far left as O'Rourke to win statewide.

O'Rourke will outspend Cruz, but will probably fall a few points short. Anything closer than a 10 point race though is an accomplishment in and of itself, and lead to a lot of opportunities for "Beto" to remain in the public eye, although in politics, "moral victories" do not really count for too much, especially when a Senate majority might be on the line.

U.S. Senate races predicted thus far: 
19 D (9 Safe, 5 Likely, 2 Leans, 3 Tossup)
  9 R (2 Safe, 1 Likely,1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Total with predictions thus far:
42 D (23 holdovers, 9 Safe, 5 Likely, 2 Leans, 3 Tossup)
51 R (42 holdovers, 2 Safe, 1 Likely, 1 Leans, 5 Tossup)

Tuesday, October 02, 2018

NFL Week 4 Results and Week 5 Games

35 Days Until Election Day

Week 4


1. Vikings (1-1-1) at Rams (3-0) L 1
2. Jets (1-2) at Jaguars (2-1) W 1
3. Dolphins (3-0) at Patriots (1-2) L 2
4. Eagles (2-1) at Titans (2-1) W 2
5. Texans (0-3) at Colts (1-2) W 3
6. Bills (1-2) at Packers (1-1-1) L 3
7. Lions (1-2) at Cowboys (1-2) W 4
8. Buccaneers (2-1) at Bears (2-1) W 5
9. Bengals (2-1) at Falcons (1-2) W 6
10. Seahawks (1-2) at Cardinals (0-3) L 4
11. Browns (1-1-1) at Raiders (0-3) L 5
12. Saints (2-1) at Giants (1-2) L 6
13. 49ers (1-2) at Chargers (1-2) W 7
14. Ravens (2-1) at Steelers (1-1-1) L 7
15. Chiefs (3-0) at Broncos (2-1) W 8

Week 4 Results: 8-7 (53%)
Overall Results: 36-25 (59%)

Week  5


1. Colts (1-3) at Patriots (2-2)
2. Titans (3-1) at Bills (1-3)
3. Falcons (1-3) at Steelers (1-2-1)
4. Broncos (2-2) at Jets (1-3)
5. Jaguars (3-1) at Chiefs (4-0)
6. Packers (2-1-1) at Lions (1-3)
7. Ravens (3-1) at Browns (1-2-1)
8. Giants (1-3) at Panthers (2-1)
9. Dolphins (3-1) at Bengals (3-1)
10. Raiders (1-3) at Chargers (2-2)
11. Cardinals (0-4) at 49ers (1-3)
12. Vikings (1-2-1) at Eagles (2-2)
13. Rams (4-0) at Seahawks (2-2)
14. Cowboys (2-2) at Texans (1-3)
15. Redskins (2-1) at Saints (3-1)